Above the Bar
By Jessica Marshall
Best Craft Cocktail
Kill Devil Club
KC’s newest hotspot is a jazzy nightclub overlooking the Power & Light District. The dark, cozy club with a speakeasy vibe, features handcrafted cocktails, a well-stocked bar with an especially large selection of rums and live music that will make you want to get up and swing the night away. Brought to you by Ryan Maybee, the craft cocktail king, Kill Devil’s premiere cocktail list includes Tempest, Bacchanal Plantation, Bliss Swizzle, Mojo Royale, Man’s Ruin, Tailwind; as well as the classic Hanky Panky, Old Fashioned, Death in the Afternoon and Bee’s Knees; and the signature Kill-Devil Punch.
The Kill Devil Club
61 E. 14th St., Kansas City, Mo.
(913) 908-0406 | killdevilclub.com
Best Girls' Night Out
Grab a seat at the bar inside for some laughs with your girls while enjoying the festive ambiance, or venture out onto the terrace on a warm summer night where you’ll feel transported to an ocean-side resort. Serving up Spanish culture via drinks and tapas, or small plates, La Bodega is a great place for camaraderie and fun. The Sangria is the best around, but don’t forget about the mojitos or the impressive wine list. La Bodega also offers $5 happy hour specials and half-price wines on Monday, perfect for group sharing.
La Bodega Tapas & Lounge
4311 W. 119th St., Leawood, Kan.
(913) 428-8272 | labodegakc.com
Best Neighborhood Bar
Where everyone knows your name, especially if you’re a regular. Locally owned and operated since 1982, Coach’s offers a great menu — including awesome late night specials — and plenty of flat screen TVs (46 inches or larger … who says size doesn’t matter?) to satisfy even the biggest sports enthusiasts. This is the place down the street where people go after work to have a drink with friends, to watch the big game with everyone or just to grab a burger on a Saturday afternoon. The new location in Overland Park also features the often-talked-about fireplace room and rooftop bar and patio.
Coach’s Bar & Grill
9089 W. 135th St., Overland Park, Kan.
(913) 897-7070 | coach-s.com
Best Honky Tonk
PBR Big Sky
PBR Big Sky has been known to host a crazy crowd or two. This is where cowboy cool meets urban chic. Think denim and diamonds, Stetsons and stilettos. Throw in cold beer, hard drinks and a little bull riding, and it’s a fun time for any cowboy and cowgirl. With country music playing in the background and a dance party on the floor, you can enjoy drink specials Monday through Friday, and a live band playing Thursday and Saturday nights.
PBR Big Sky
111 E. 13th St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 442-8145 | pbrbigskykc.com
Located in the underground depths of the Rieger Hotel Grill & Exchange, this is the best lounge in town. To get in you need to call or text ahead and be buzzed in at the back door of the building. The bar is down the steps and through a tunnel. Dark, cozy and cool — also delicious, expensive, sexy (the adjectives are endless) — this place is a gem. It’s exactly what you’d expect from an “exclusive” upscale bar with experienced bartenders. The cocktails are incredible! Be sure to try the patron favorites: Beautiful Red Bell, Shatto Blanc and Stay Wet.
1924 Main St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 536-1325 | theriegerkc.com/manifesto
New & Noteworthy
Situated adjacent to Providence New American Kitchen, the revamped Drum Room Lounge is similar to an Old World lounge, featuring warm, dark woods and an homage to Kansas City’s illustrious past. A handcrafted Prohibition-era cocktail menu is the centerpiece — using fresh fruits, spices and herbs, each drink pays homage to historical figures and events, such as the Truman-hattan, Teddy’s Last Drop, Ford’s Bramble Tonic, McKinley Dram, Sassy’s Champagne Cocktail and Prohibition Presidente. A hand-selected wine menu and beer list also are available.
1335 Baltimore Ave., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 303-1686 | drumroomkc.com
Known internationally for its award-winning, handcrafted beers, Gordon Biersch brews a variety of beers (mostly lagers) on-site in small batches using authentic Weyermann malt and Hersbrucker hops imported from Germany. The “brewmasters” create the house beers Golden Export, Hefeweizen, Blonde Bock, Czech Pilsner, Märzen and Schwarzbier, as well as limited-time brews that complement all seasons. Each seasonal beer is celebrated with a tapping party that’s open to the public. And the menu is one of the best in town, from appetizers to entrees you won’t be disappointed.
11652 Ash St., Leawood, Kan.
(913) 451-2739 | gordonbiersch.com
Best Wine Bar
At JJ’s the bar area is dominated by a library of liquors, scotches and vintage ports, and the extensive wine list was awarded a Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine as one of the most comprehensive in the world. A visit to JJ’s would not be complete without sampling a glass or a bottle of wine from the 1,800 bottle, 42-page list, which gives you wine choices from around the world, from Argentina to New Zealand, as you select just the right wine to complement your cuisine. Bottles range in price from $20 to $6,000.
910 W. 48th St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 561-7136 | jjs-restaurant.com
Best Gay Bar
Referred to as 303 by its patrons, this bar attracts a diverse, friendly, fun and primarily gay clientele. But you’ll never feel excluded here — owners Gene and Jeffrey, who serve as amazing resources for the local scene, will make you feel right at home. With its casual yet classy atmosphere, 303 offers a delightful menu and excellent cocktails (more classics than specialty drinks) but the bar is well-stocked and the pours are generous. The fun really gets going after 9 p.m. on weekends.
303 Westport Road, Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 753-2303 | bistro303.com
Best Place to Shoot Pool
With 35 pool tables, ranging from 7 to 9 feet, coin-operated or available by the hour, Side Pockets is the premier gathering place to shoot pool. Pool leagues play Sunday through Thursday, and pool tournaments take place every Thursday and Sunday. The pool hall also has a full-service bar for some liquid courage, to help take the edge off or for imbibing as a spectator. With all of the amenities, Side Pockets has just about something for everyone, including electronic soft-tip dartboards and poker tables.
13320 W. 87th St. Parkway, Lenexa, Kan.
(913) 888-7665 | sidepockets.com
Most Authentic Speakeasy
It’s all about the music at The Majestic, which features live jazz seven nights a week. The jazz club, with its dark, velvety ambience, is down a flight of stairs, but it’s not your typical basement hideaway. The Majestic will meet all of your expectations with amazing cocktails and a relaxing atmosphere. Did we mention the music? Be sure to put this on your list of must-go places in Kansas City.
The Majestic Restaurant and Jazz Club
931 Broadway St., Kansas City, Mo.
(816) 221-1888 | majestickc.com
Best Time Capsule
This swanky Johnson County lounge is a choice spot for the more mature nightcluber (think mid-40s and up) although it offers great people-watching for the younger crowd that occasionally wanders in. The main dance floor plays popular music from the last 10 to 30 years, and the separate Signature Lounge plays “today’s Top 40” hits, or so they say. The ambiance is cozy and welcoming with ample tables and cushy chairs and couches. Aside from the odd pot of coffee brewing at the bar and the cougar sightings, it’s a fun, nostalgic place to dance and reminisce about those songs and the memories they hold.
6820 W. 105th St., Overland Park, Kan.
(913) 383-1555 | touchethenightclub.com
photos: Steve Puppe, Brooke Vandever, Matthew Taylor